Carbs are kosher, researchers say

By Shayna Brouker • Published: November 11th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Of all the fad diets of the past few decades, almost all fall into one of two camps: low-carb or low-fat. You must cut bread and pasta or full-fat yogurt and steak, essentially. Low-carb diets like Atkins, South Beach and paleo have been in vogue recently, but a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism shows that the low-fat route could be just as effective.

The theory backing up bread-abstainers is that reducing carbohydrate intake drops insulin levels and thereby, body fat. The participants in the study abiding by this principle did indeed lose a few pounds of body fat. But so did those who cut back on fat. The average participant in the study lost about a pound of fat over two weeks, and about four pounds of weight total. The low-fat dieters in particular lost about a pound of fat a week. While decreasing carb consumption does increase fat burning, not eating fat in the first place leads to fat loss, too.

What’s more, the study found that going low-carb slowed metabolism by about 100 calories a day. Eating low-fat had no effect on metabolism.

But the best diet, the researchers pointed out, is the one that nets fewer calories overall … and the one you can stick with. Whether that’s a low-fat or low-carb variety is up to you. Some studies show that over a six-month period dieters do tend to lose more weight on a low-carb diet, but it’s not always sustainable.

In a nutritious diet designed to sustain weight, fat calories account for 20 to 35 percent of daily calories. About half should come from carbs. To lose weight, burn more calories than you take in. It’s helpful to get a handle on how fast or slow your metabolism is to determine how much activity is necessary for this equation to balance out in your favor. The best diet is the one that works for you.